It’s that time of year again. When this post goes live there will be a little over a week until Christmas Day, and with that comes a hell of a lot of pressure, especially for those of us who have mental health issues.
The one Big Thing, for me, is family, all you ever see and hear about is the big family get together and most people expect some kind of big bust-up that they freely admit they can do without. Now, I’m most fortunate in that growing up we didn’t have the big get-togethers and that I don’t recall anyone drinking a fuck tonne of booze, the dropping off of gifts was usually done prior to the day and everyone left each other to it. Even so, my partner and I, over the past few years, have turned our phones onto call divert so as to keep the day between the kids and us. Photos are taken and then sent to relatives on Boxing Day instead, we don’t live locally to my family so there are no random drop-ins, though we usually expect some kind of fall out on my partner’s side we do try to stay clear of things as much as possible.
Other things that cause stress is the apparent need to spend an absolute fortune, again, something we haven’t ever really done. I know of at least one person who has taken out a new credit card just to buy her daughter a load of things, including a brand new iPad (even though her current one barely gets used) just because “well, that’s just what you do, isn’t it?” No, no it isn’t.
We aren’t well off, a lot of people know our current situation, we’re both out of work as my partner was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and whilst she had a mastectomy at the start of the year, her recovery has been rather long and she keeps having setbacks such as infections in her surgery site. I’m her carer and we have three kids so there’s always a lot going on, but we make it all work. We monitor what the kids are interested in and buy accordingly, usually topping up or contributing to things they always use a lot anyway. As an example, the younger two still love My Little Pony, so they have stuff themed around that or that they can integrate into their play alongside their ponies. Our eldest is really artistic (and she’s so, so much better than I was at her age) so we try to get her some of the pricier art materials that we can’t just pick up on a whim.
We have other traditions too, we keep a box of DVD’s in the loft throughout the year, these are brought down to coincide with December 1st and are basically films we enjoy watching over the Christmas period, so my partners favourite Christmas film “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is in there, whilst other films such as Die Hard, Batman (1989), The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Wallace and Gromit collection are also in this box, not all are suitable for all the family, but that gives my partner and I something to watch when everyone else has gone to bed, though we have tried getting our 15 year old to watch some of them with us, she’d rather chat to her friends on her phone as most teenagers do.
What I’m trying to say is, there’s no right way to do Christmas, do it how you want to do it, don’t allow others, be they friends, family, the media or some pre-conceived idea of what Christmas “should” be, spoil this time of year for you. If all you want to do is sit at home, in your pants and watch Bottom, then fucking go for it, no one has the right to tell you what to do with your life.
And remember, if it all becomes too much and you need someone to talk to, you can call the Samaritans on